The impacts of climate change could cost the global economy US$69 trillion through 2100 if average global warming is allowed to hit 2.0°C, according to a new study by consultants at Moody’s Analytics.
At a 1.5°C stabilization target, the global economic toll would still reach $54 trillion by century’s end, the study concludes.
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The study warns that rising temperatures will “universally hurt worker health and productivity”, while more frequent extreme weather events “will increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property,” the Washington Post reports. It adds that “water- and vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever will likely be the largest direct effect of changes in human health and the associated productivity loss,” while outdoor work in sectors like agriculture will be affected by extreme heat. Elsewhere, sea level rise will damage coastal real estate, wipe out rental incomes in some areas, and crimp consumer spending as a result.
A world that exceeded the 2.0°C threshold, meanwhile, “could hit tipping points for even larger and irreversible warming feedback loops, such as permanent summer ice melt in the Arctic Ocean.”
Moody’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi called the study the company’s “first stab at trying to quantify what the macroeconomic consequences” of climate change might be. He added that the climate crisis is “not a cliff event. It’s not a shock to the economy. It’s more like a corrosive” that is “getting weightier with each passing year.”
The report lists Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa among the countries that will be hardest hit, adding that fossil exporters—especially in the Middle East—will face falling oil and natural gas prices. Saudi Arabia will see its GDP fall 10% by 2048, and India will sustain the most serious impact of the world’s 12 largest economies, with GDP growth accruing 2.5% more slowly due to climate change. “The country’s service industry will be hit by heat stress, agricultural productivity will fall, and health care costs will climb,” the Post states.
Zandi pointed to the disconnect between economic models that run to mid-century, a broader crisis with implications through 2100, and business cycles with a much shorter attention span. While World Bank climate scenarios only run through 2048, the Moody’s report noted that “the distress compounds over time and is far more severe in the second half of the century.” Zandi added that “that’s why it’s so hard to get people focused on this issue and get a comprehensive policy response. Business is focused on the next year, or five years out.”
He told the Post: “Most of the models go out 30 years, but, really, the damage to the economy is in the next half-century, and we haven’t developed the tools to look out that far.”
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